The purpose of this project was to develop and implement performance assessments that would evaluate musical understanding of melodic and rhythmic elements. The assessments were created to be adaptable at each grade level, (1-5), and reflect a sequential progression of musical understanding from the ability to keep a steady beat to creation and performance of a composition.
The skills and knowledge to be evaluated were selected from the Sioux Falls music curriculum, my Kodály curriculum, and the National Standards for Arts Education. The assessment tasks were accomplished individually or as part of an ensemble and involved all students during the assessment. Tasks were self-administered to free the teacher for evaluation. A rubric system was used for the grading of each assessment.
A review of literature included a historical background of assessment and discussion of why, how, and what teachers should assess in the music classroom. The value of performance assessment, as documented by Dawson (1996), Hart (1994), Lehman (1992), Stiggins (1995), Sweet (1992), Wiggins (1992), and others, provided the impetus for the creation of these assessment. Philosophies of Kodály, Gordon, and Elliott were reviewed and used as guidelines for the development of criteria for assessment. The techniques used for implementation are an outgrowth of my understanding of these philosophies.
The performance assessments were categorized into two groups: 1) preliminary, and 2) higher-level assessments. Preliminary assessments evaluated the skills necessary for the higher-level tasks. These preliminary tasks were rhythmic and melodic dictation, beat competency, physical demonstration of elements, singing games, flash card identification, and beat sheets. Higher-level assessments included recorder, ostinato, composition, and ensemble performance.
Creating and implementing these assessments directed my classroom instruction toward student outcomes and thus strengthened my instructional strategies. The resulting scores of these assessments provided necessary information for enhancing my curriculum and led me to believe that performance assessment is truly a worthwhile, musical way to assess what students learn in the classroom.